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Chivas Seeks a Change of Luck

April 29, 2006|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

John O'Brien was running in rectangles Friday morning. It beats running in circles, but even at the Home Depot Center it doesn't get you anywhere.

Only four days before the U.S. World Cup roster is announced, O'Brien has developed a left calf problem that will keep the playmaker out of Chivas USA's game tonight against the New York Red Bulls in Carson.

It isn't a serious injury -- hence O'Brien's jogging -- and it's unlikely to cause U.S. Coach Bruce Arena to omit the midfielder from his squad, but it does mean that since being signed on April 4, O'Brien has played only five minutes of first-team soccer.

Meanwhile, a player with no minutes at all -- defender and two-time Major League Soccer champion Ezra Hendrickson -- was traded this week to the Columbus Crew, an indication of the faith Chivas Coach Bob Bradley has in his rookie outside backs, Lawson Vaughn and Jonathan Bornstein.

"We felt like some of our young guys were doing pretty well, and that's never an easy pill to swallow for a veteran player," Bradley said. "Based upon that, he felt like there may be better opportunities."

Making his Chivas debut tonight will be 2002 U.S. World Cup defender Carlos Llamosa, who has recovered from a left hamstring strain and will start in place of another veteran, Claudio Suarez, who is with Mexico's provisional World Cup squad that plays Venezuela at the Rose Bowl next Friday.

The Red Bulls still are seeking their first victory of the season, despite the midfield presence of France '98 World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff and Honduran international Amado Guevara, a former MLS most valuable player.

Chivas USA is coming off a couple of difficult losses.

"For us, this is a very important game," Bradley said. "We've had two games in a row where I thought we played pretty well but didn't take any points. Plain and simple, it's a game where we've got to step up, take three points and feel like the work over the first month of the season has been solid.

"So often in this league, as you're starting and the schedule is a little weird, you almost feel ... if you can just sort of come out and be on solid ground and feel like you've made progress, then that's what you want out of the first month.

"I think for us to feel that way, we've got to win."

The Red Bulls, with three ties and a loss, know the feeling.

"There's always the danger of a team that, at the moment, is a little bit desperate," Bradley said. "And then you look at who are the ones that can jump-start them, and so that's Youri and Amado. We need to make sure that those guys are in for a tough game."

CHIVAS USA TONIGHT

vs. New York, 7, Ch. 54 (KAZA Azteca)

Site -- Home Depot Center.

Radio -- 1020.

Records -- Chivas USA 1-2, Red Bulls 0-1-3.

Record vs. Red Bulls -- (2005) 0-1-1.

Update -- Tonight's game will be the first for Chivas USA Coach Bob Bradley against the former MetroStars, who fired him last fall and replaced him with Mo Johnston, his former assistant. After a poor start to 2006, Johnston now finds himself under similar pressure from the team's new owners.

Tickets -- (877) 244-8271.

GALAXY TODAY

at Real Salt Lake, 1 p.m., ESPN2

Site -- Rice-Eccles Stadium, 1, ESPN2

Radio -- 830.

Records -- Galaxy 1-2-1, Real Salt Lake 0-3-1.

Record vs. Salt Lake (2005) -- 2-1-1.

Update -- Scrambling to recover from the team's worst home start in history (0-2-1), Galaxy Coach Steve Sampson has benched goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and veteran Cobi Jones and will be without starting defender Tyrone Marshall (left knee sprain). After scoring only three goals in its first four matches, the Galaxy is expected to start three forwards, Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez and Cornell Glen, against the league's weakest team.

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